Majority of folks – whether women, men or teenagers – across the world have been suffering from acne and pimple problem since ages. But acne or pimple is not only a skin disorder. It is a well-known fact that acne, apart from physical effects, also leads to several psychological problems like low self-esteem, depression mood-swings and feeling of unworthiness. Thus, it becomes even more important to deal with acne right from the first breakout.
Some people claim that eating junk foods such as French fries, chocolate, or pizza can lead to pimples and acne. To tell you the truth, there is no established connection between diet and acne. Even severe stress does not result into acne. At the most, these factors can aggravate it.
What Causes Teen Acne?
Teens get acne because of the hormonal changes that come with puberty, which is why so many young people get it during puberty or in case of girls right before their periods. As the body starts to grow and mature, the hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands to make more sebum. Skin pores get blocked if there is excessive sebum and too many dead skin cells. Bacteria can thus get entrapped within the pores and multiply. This leads to swelling and redness — the beginning of acne.
The kind of acne that typically teens get is known as acne vulgaris (the “vulgaris” aren’t as bad as the name sounds — it just means “of the common kind”). It usually shows up on the face, neck, shoulders, upper back, and chest. The good news is that for majority of teens, acne goes away more or less completely by the time they cross their teenage.
How To Get Rid Of Teenage Acne?
These days you don’t have to go through rites of acne-breakouts while passing through teen age. Despite your changing hormones, you can have acne-free skin that looks smooth and radiant. Read on here for the best acne treatments for teens – whether girls or boys.
1. Begin With Over-The-Counter Specialized Acne Products: The most popular over-the-counter acne products are those which contain these two ingredients, namely, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. “Products that contain salicylic acid unplug the pores and those with benzoyl peroxide are mild anti-inflammatories and also kill or stop bacteria from growing,” says Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD, who teaches dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School.
(i) First Step – Salicylic Acid Products: Don’t get scared by the name, it’s a common ingredient in acne-treatment products. These products can be in the form of face cleansers, washes, lotions and cleansing pads that are available in drug stores or pharmacies and you can buy them without prescription. Whereas salicylic acid doesn’t kill acne causing bacteria, but it does clear out the clogged skin pores by drying out the skin. Dry skin has a tendency to peel, so the dead skin cells blocking your pores are cleared out over time.
You need to try this method for at least 4 weeks to see its results before deciding that this doesn’t suit your skin conditions. You will need to continue applying this product for some time even after your acne is cleared up, otherwise the acne may reoccur.
(ii) Second Step – Benzoyal Perooxide Products: If salicylic acid products do not improve your acne conditions, move on to benzoyal perooxide products such as over-the-counter cleansers, foams, lotions, shaving creams containing benzoyal peroxide. Like salicylic products, you can buy these products without any prescription from drug stores or pharmacies.
Like salicylic acid products, benzoyl products also work by drying out the skin, but in addition they attack acne-causing bacteria and exterminate them.
“Don’t overuse over-the-counter acne products and also avoid using any more than two acne products, as it can dry out your skin excessively, which can make the acne conditions even worse”, says New York dermatologist Amy Wechsler. Keep using the products as instructed on the label and wait for about 4 weeks to the see the improvement. As in case of salicylic acid products, continue to use it even after your acne conditions are contained, or else they can reappear.
(i) Before using any over-the-counter treatment make sure you are not allergic by doing a patch test.
(ii) Check with a doctor before using benzoyl peroxide in case you are pregnant or expect to become pregnant.
(iii) If you are a person of color, you may need to avoid or restrict benzoyl peroxide use as it tends to decolorize the skin. Try to use it under a dermatologist’s supervision.
(iv) Make sure to follow the directions given on the products you are using.
(v) Refrain from using skin care products that contain alcohol as they can irritate your skin, causing acne outbreaks.
(vi) At no time try to pick, scratch, pop, or squeeze bumps as It can make acne conditions worse, and cause skin infections leaving scars.
2. Daily Skincare Routine:
(i) Gently Wash Your Face Twice Daily: Begin your days with washing your face, and end your evenings doing the same. Use your hands/fingers and lukewarm water to wash your face instead of a washcloth, towel or any coarse object. Use a mild non-soap cleanser in the morning and a 2 ½ % benzoyl peroxide before sleeping at night. This washing ritual everyday will help to get rid of oil and dirt that gets accumulated in your skin pores during the day and night, thereby preventing the clogged pores that lead to outbreaks.
(ii) Acne Spot Treatment: Just put 2% salicylic acid product dots on the acne spots after you wash your face with cleanser. Leave out this step if you use a benzoyl peroxide wash.
(iii) Apply Moisturizer: The topical use of acne products and cleansers mentioned above can dry out your skin excessively. Although, some folks think that a moisturizer will aggravate acne conditions, actually it doesn’t. Use gel-based moisturizers if you have too much oily skin, on the other hand for drier skin you can use lotion-based moisturizer. Make sure to use “oil-free” and “nonacnegenic” or “non-comedogenic”. Apply the same rule to makeup and sunscreen, as well. During day time, use a moisturizer with at least SPF 30 to protect your skin from further irritation.
(iv) If you have oily hair, wash your hair regularly and shun away from using oily gels so as to keep oil away from your face.
(v) Sweat on skin can trigger acne, and if you are already having it can make them worse. Take shower and wash your face right after workouts and sports. Anything that retains sweat on your skin such as a baseball cap or a helmet can make acne worse. So take them off as soon as possible and wipe down your helmet chinstraps with alcohol after use.
3. When You Need A Dermatologist: If you are not satisfied with over-the-counter acne treatments even after using them regularly for over 4 weeks, you may need to consult a good dermatologist. The dermatologist, after examining your specific acne conditions, will prescribe medications to address your individual skin needs. The medical professionals generally advise:
(i) Antibiotics, which can be either in the form of topical products, like lotions, cleansers, etc. or pills. Antibiotics attack acne-causing bacteria and also nurse the redness and inflammation on the skin. Although, the pills are more proactive in treating overactive sebaceous glands and provide faster relief, but then they have side effects too such as upset stomach, dizziness than the topical treatments.
(ii) Retinoids, which can be in the topical form or pills. Sometimes they are prescribed in combination with other treatments. Like antibiotics, retinoids also have side effects including redness, dryness and itching of the skin.
(iii) More aggressive treatments such as laser and heat treatments to exterminate acne causing bacteria on your face, as well as corticosteroid injections to relieve painful, large acne lesions.
(iv) In cases of acne scars, treatments such as laser resurfacing, dermabrasion, chemical peels, surgery, and skin fillers to diminish them.
(i) Lookout for non-comedogenic pH balanced face cleanser and moisturizer. Non-comedogenic means, it won’t clog your skin pores. A pH balanced facial cleanser will balance out the acid mantle and prevent acne vulgaris growth.
(ii) Avoid using hair-gels and other hair chemicals as they can drip down onto the forehead and face leading to acne outbreaks.
(iii) During a breakout, avoid using makeup (foundation, powder, or blush) as much as you can.
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